Friday 24 July 2009

The pathology of Chavismo

Via Mick: a fascinating and deeply troubling analysis of state-sponsored anti-semitism in Venezuela:
Over the past four years, Venezuela has witnessed alarming signs of state-directed anti-Semitism, including a 2005 Christmas declaration by President Hugo Chávez himself: “The World has enough for everybody, but some minorities, the descendants of the same people that crucified Christ, and of those that expelled Bolívar from here and in their own way crucified him. . . . have taken control of the riches of the world.”
The article also highlights other pathological features of Chavez' authoritarian ideology, including rabid homophobia and a habit of characterising opponents of the regime, as 'escuálidos' or 'squalids', 'a Spanish term that connotes not only dirtiness and abjection, but also flimsiness, wimpiness, and scrawniness.' Moreover: 'What Chavista opponents—be they escuálidos, patos, or Gringo-Zionist-Imperialists—have in common is shit. Chávez routinely calls his opponents “plastas” (“lumps of shit”).' Freud would have a field day.

The authors of the Boston Review article, Claudio Lomnitz and Rafael Sánchez, point to another aspect of Chavez' rule that is distinctly reminiscent of totalitarian regimes:
Instead of political parties, representative institutions, and, above all, ideologies, Chavismo manifests as a physical relationship between the people and Chávez, with, as Chávez himself describes, love as the potent glue connecting them.Thus during the recent campaign for the referendum to abolish presidential term limits, the widespread slogan,Amor con amor se paga” (“love must with love be repaid”), which captures the notion that Chávez’s love for the people comes with a corresponding obligation.

As Lomnitz and Sánchez explain: 'The problem with substituting rights with a language of love is that dissent suggests lack of love, or ingratitude, or a sign of allegiance to a foreign enemy: capitalism, the “Euro-Gringo imperialism,” or even, for Chávez, Zionist-Fascist-Euro-Gringo Imperialism.'

We've been here before, I think. As the authors of the article conclude: 'When a regime relies on populism, military uniforms, homophobia, and anti-Semitism, it is time to worry.'

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